Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits & Goat Cheese ♥ A Late-Summer Glory

Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits and Goat Cheese ♥ AVeggieVenture.com.
Prepare to swoon ... an intoxicating Tomato Cobbler, a lake of jammy tomato and tomatillo below; herby islands of cornmeal biscuits on top; small boats of goat cheese tucked between. Easy enough for a weeknight but worthy of a special occasion. A definite "must" for tomato lovers in the late waning days of summer. Add a salad for a Meatless Monday meal or steaks from the grill for a Weekend Feast. Summer Gorgeous!

Season Change. By calendar, it started mid-August with the first-day walk to school with my favorite first graders, their twin-boy shoulders somehow wider and more square as if readying themselves for the Grade One of Life. By weather, St. Louis was blessed with an entire week of unseasonably lovely-cool, windows-open September-in-August days. And by behavior, the local wildlife is girding for winter, the neighborhood deer and turkeys and just today a flock of Canada geese feed in Dawson Field across the way.

In the kitchen, season switch occurs more subtly, first with an openness to soup, still summer-light but warm not chilled; substituting eggplant for summer squash and plums for peaches; then finally, the irrefutable sign of the last days of summer, tomatoes gently warmed not in sunshine but in a skillet, pushing aside quick-chopped raw tomato salads.

For some years, I've made a tomato cobbler at this very-same seasonal moment. Tomato cobbler, it calls to me. Is it the light? The absence of frog calls at night? The deafening cicadas? Somehow, it's just time. No other time could be so right as this brief window of late August-early September. But until last year, no Tomato Cobbler recipe struck me as just right. One after another just seemed too complicated – too heavy, too rich – for late-summer.

But now? I've made this particular Tomato Cobbler four times now, most recently just last week when we sat outside with friends for an impromptu weeknight supper. Good friends, good wine, good conversation – and one incredible Tomato Cobbler.

It's time, Tomato Cobbler Time, that is.

A quick note. The recipe "writes" longer than it "makes". It's simple, really. Just make some biscuit dough and pop it into the freezer. Cook some tomatoes. Nestle the biscuits onto the tomatoes and bake awhile. Add the goat cheese and bake awhile longer at higher heat. That's it! It's really a "summer easy" recipe. Make it once and you'll be set.

Day 130: Veggie Burritos with Cilantro Sauce ♥

Veggie Burritos with Cilantro Sauce ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a vegetarian 'concept' recipe for what's on hand, gorgeous sauce. Very adaptable!
graphic button small size size 10 Today's recipe for a vegetarian supper for Meatless Monday: So what if you just cooked up a few vegetables, whatever you've got on hand, made sure to use lots of warm spices, rolled it all up in soft, warm tortillas and then draped them with a gorgeous green sauce? Heaven on a plate, truly. Very adaptable, a "concept" recipe.

~updated 2015 & republished for a little weekend + Meatless Monday inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2005 Carnivores should eat so well! This delicious dish reminded me of the cooking I did during several meatless years. I didn't call myself a vegetarian – that suggested a lifestyle versus a food choice – but I didn't eat meat. There are still lots of meatless meals around here but this veggie-lentil combination somehow hearkened back to those years. It's a delicious dish but it's also extremely adaptable. Feeding a few more? Add more vegetables or some cooked chickpeas. Want to serve as a side to grilled meat? Perfect. How about as a main dish? Or wrapped in half a soft thin pita or a whole wheat tortilla? Want to add meat? Sure, no problem, a little steak, a little chicken. (About that animal protein? Note to Vegetarians)

But here's the thing, there was no getting enough of the sauce! All bright and fresh-tasting, the sauce maybe looks better on top but it tastes better inside, all mushed up with the lentils and veggies.

UPDATE #1 Sure enough, this recipe delivered again, this time with a mix of potato, tomato, corn and red lentils, with fresh spinach and lime juice added at the last minute. The good news too, is that with the cover off the skillet, the vegetables cooked quickly. Supper was on the table in 30 minutes flat.

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole with Caprese Tomatoes ♥

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole with Caprese Tomatoes, another Easy Summer recipe @ AVeggieVenture.com. Low Carb. WW4. Vegetarian.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's easy summer casserole: Just cauliflower tossed with cheese sauce and topped with caprese-style tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. Weight Watchers Friendly, just WW PointsPlus 4. Low Carb. Vegetarian. graphic button small size size 10

Could it be, could it? Yes, I think this easy cauliflower casserole could be a TwitteRecipe, 140 characters no more. Let's try. Okay, yeah, piece of cake, 139 characters in the first try!

Cook cauliflower florets w salty h20, toss w cheese sauce, top w tomatoes, fresh mozz balls. Bake 350F til hot, broil if needed, add basil.

Oh good, because you'll want to remember this recipe. So simple: just cooked cauliflower tossed in a cheesy sauce then, you know, topped with more cheese plus a few tomatoes for virtue's sake. That said? This is a healthy casserole, there's cheese, sure but it's less than you might think, more like tiny "bombs" of cheese versus a heavy coating. Totally satisfying, this! You're gonna love it – at least I hope you will!

Summer's Best Corn Chowder ♥ Recipe

Summer's Best Corn Chowder ♥ AVeggieVenture.com

A simple corn chowder recipe, packed with our favorite fresh summer vegetables like onion, carrot, red pepper, potato and sweet potato and of course, the soup's real star, kernels of sweet corn. As bright and colorful as crates of fresh vegetables lined up at the farmstand. Perfect for CSA members because the corn chowder recipe uses so many fresh vegetables, all at once.

~recipe updated from the Recipe Box~
~recipe republished 2015 for a little Meatless Monday + weekend cooking inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

In winter, big pots of simmering soup are a given, hearty bowls to warm us from the inside out. But what about summer soup, do you make summer soup? Summer soups are just different, aren't they? Lighter and livelier, more likely to be all about the fresh vegetables that are so alluring during these heady summer months.

For me, summer just isn't summer without at least two must-make summer soup recipes, Tomato Gazpacho, the chilled tomato summer soup that turned me into a seasonal eater, and this corn chowder recipe, bits of summer vegetables and sweet kernels of corn in a milky broth. It's takes a little chopping, we do love to cut vegetables, don't we? :-)

I like this corn chowder served warm, not hot, the better to really taste the individual vegetables, bite by bite. It's similar to Finnish Summer Soup, one of my very oldest recipes. Add shrimp and scallops and bits of fresh tomato for Summer Seafood Chowder, another summer chowder.

All fans of summer soup will definitely want to check out my collection of Favorite Summer Soup Recipes, some chilled, some warm, all filled with summer vegetables (and fruit too!) and summer color.

Roasted Eggplant with Pomegranate & Buttermilk-Yogurt Sauce ♥

Roasted Eggplant with Pomegranate & Buttermilk-Yogurt Sauce @ AVeggieVenture.com, use globe eggplant for Meatless Monday, smaller eggplant for stunning side dishes. Vegetarian. Gluten Free. WW6.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's stunning eggplant: Roasted eggplant halves topped with an unexpected explosion of flavors, a garlicky yogurt sauce, sour pomegranate, spices and fresh herbs. Just gorgeous, this! Weight Watchers Friendly, WW PointsPlus 6. Low Cal. Gluten Free. Vegetarian. graphic button small size size 10

Okay so when was the last time anyone called the appearance of cooked eggplant "stunning"?! It's the pomegranate, of course, also the creamy sauce and thyme leaves that give this dish its "look". But it's the combination of rustic eggplant, juicy pomegranate seeds, creamy sauce, fresh herbs and the Middle Eastern spice za'atar which make this dish stunning both in appearance and an explosion of flavors in a single bite.

Fans of Otam Ottolenghi will recognize this eggplant dish, it's the cover of Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi. And it's an eggplant recipe I have wanted to make f-o-r-e-v-e-r, especially after my dear friend Sharon last year or maybe even the year before mentioned that she "loves" it!

And so did we, so did we! I made it twice, once with a large globe eggplant for a vegetarian Meatless Monday main dish, then again with smaller eggplant for a simple summery side dish. Both times? I was thrilled to have leftover Buttermilk-Yogurt Sauce afterward, too. So good!

PS Even though it happens every year, I’m always still surprised to “fall in love” with a new vegetable. Not a new-to-me vegetable, one that I’ve always loved and cooked with but somehow, that season, am especially smitten with. In 2015? Eggplant. Yeah, pretty plump eggplant. Like Roasted Eggplant Salad with Tomato-Caper Salsa. And now Roasted Eggplant with Pomegranate & Buttermilk-Yogurt Sauce. It’s a great summer.

Practical Home Canning Tips

Practical Home Canning Tips ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a long list of useful tips for home canners from a long-time canner.
graphic button small size size 10 A long list of tips and insider tricks from an obsessive home canner. This is my "what I wish I'd known before I started canning" list. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated from the Recipe Box, first posted 2006!~
~recipe republished 2015 for a little weekend canning inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

A few summers ago, I decided to can. What started as a few jars somehow turned into a root cellar's worth. Call it the Summer of Obsessive Canning. I stopped counting after the 145th jar and the 25th batch. All lined up on the counter, the glistening jars were immensely satisfying. I learned to love the POP sound as the seals set. It helped me grieve the loss of my mom, just weeks gone.

That summer started with plum chutney and ended with pickled beans. In between came a red relish, dixie relish, piccallili, blueberry lime jam, banana butter, pickled mushrooms, pickled peaches, pickled beets, pickled peppers I call Pied Pipers, watermelon pickles, my grandmother's dills. That year, there were too many tears to make Ripe-Tomato Relish with Peaches & Pears (Sharon's Pickle), my mom and I had always made it together.

I don't can every year now, just some years. But when I do, I always review the tips below which were first written for our family cookbook, my "I sure wish I'd known this before starting" list. They're practical tips, mostly what to do before and after you start canning, what I think of as "what I learned between jar #1 and jar #145".

Do you have your own home canning tips? Please do comment below, so many other canners have shared their own great tips, helping this page become a real resource page for new and returning home canners. If you're looking for tried-and-true recipes, here are my canning recipes.

Watermelon & Celery Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette ♥

Watermelon & Celery Salad @ AVeggieVenture.com, bright with lime, sweet with honey, a great summer combo. Vegan, naturally gluten free, Weight Watchers PointsPlus 3
graphic button small size size 10 Today's totally captivating summer salad, a quick mix of ripe watermelon and, get this, celery! Weight Watchers Friendly, PointsPlus 3. Low Cal. Naturally Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

I know, I know. Of course you're questioning this combination, watermelon and celery. Sure the colors are bright and pretty but do watermelon and celery, you know, go together? In a word? YES.

My friend Ann served this captivating salad at book club last month. She first found the recipe on the New York Times Cooking app and has made it over and over all summer, her now-strapping teenage boys "eat it up". (Side Note #1 I first wrote about her sons when they were little guys, Power Food Broccoli Salad. How the years do pass! Side Note #2 Ann and I both love the NYT app, especially how it stays in synch on the desktop, iPad and iPhone!)

Back to the celery. Yes, it works with watermelon! And isn't it rare, you know, to find something that really lets celery stand out and jump around and grab a little attention? One word to the wise, this salad needs to sit for a few hours before it's served. Make it in the morning, no later than lunch, say, to serve for dinner.